Joe Wertz

StateImpact Oklahoma

Joe has previously served as Managing Editor of Urban Tulsa Weekly, as the Arts & Entertainment Editor at Oklahoma Gazette and worked as a Staff Writer for The Oklahoman. Joe was a weekly correspondent for KGOU from 2007-2010. He grew up in Bartlesville, Okla., lives in Oklahoma City, and studied journalism at the University of Central Oklahoma.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

State Question 777 would create a constitutional right to farm and ranch in Oklahoma, giving the agriculture industry unique protection from the state legislature. The ballot question concerns livestock and crops, but legal experts say the statewide measure will likely come down to lawsuits and courts.

In the weeks leading up to the November election, officials in cities and towns across the state have urged Oklahomans to vote no on SQ 777.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Officials with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency say Oklahoma oil and gas regulators should “consider a moratorium” of waste-fluid disposal in its most seismically active areas.

The suggestion was made in the federal agency’s annual review of the Oklahoma Corporation Commission’s oversight of disposal wells, which Energy Wire’s Mike Soraghan obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request:

Another earthquake shook Oklahoma today. It measured 3.1 on the Richter scale, and struck just after 7 a.m. near Stroud, 65 miles from Oklahoma City.

That’s one of more than 500 this year, compared to California’s 156. Scientists have linked Oklahoma’s sharp increase in earthquakes in recent years to the underground injection of wastewater during oil and gas production.

Here & Now‘s Robin Young checks in with Joe Wertz, KGOU’s StateImpact reporter, about Oklahoma’s earthquake trends.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Panhandle is empty and hard to get to. The region attracts few people, very little industry and none of the light pollution that accompany both. It’s a remote location that’s earning a national reputation as the perfect spot to stare deep into space.

Terry Zimmerman adjusts the eyepiece on the 12.5-inch f5 Dobsonian he built from a kit — technical talk for a telescope that’s so tall, you have to climb a stepladder to take a peek.

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Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Oklahoma voters will decide in November whether to change the state constitution with new language protecting the agriculture industry.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

Federal and state regulators on Monday expanded and modified emergency orders limiting oil and gas activity at wells near a fault line that produced Oklahoma’s strongest earthquake on record.

A 5.8-magnitude earthquake rocked Oklahoma on Saturday, prompting Gov. Mary Fallin to declare a state of emergency. On Wednesday, officials said it was the strongest quake in the state’s history.

The quake followed a string of thousands of smaller tremors that have raised questions about the impact of drilling for oil and gas, and the controversial technique of hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking.

Joe Wertz / StateImpact Oklahoma

The U.S. Geological Survey is upgrading the strength of an earthquake that shook the state on Sept. 3 to 5.8 magnitude. That change makes the Labor Day weekend temblor the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in Oklahoma. The quake is the latest in a seismic surge researchers say has largely been fueled by the oil industry practice of pumping waste fluid into underground disposal wells.

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